Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Don't Cling... Go!

JOHN 20:17 - go find my brothers and tell them.

When you have good news, you love to tell people. Couples go to incredible ends to create elaborate pregnancy/gender reveal parties. Parents love to brag on their children. Major accomplishments are nearly as much fun if they are kept secret.

Jesus' resurrection was the best news ever. He didn't want anyone to keep it a secret.

When Mary saw Jesus, her first inclination was to embrace Him. That is good. Closeness with Jesus is important. But Jesus had a more important task for her. He said, "Don't cling... GO!"

We ought to embrace Jesus and seek closeness with Jesus. We do this through personal study, prayer, meditation. We get closer to Him by attending church services and small group meetings.

But Jesus has a more important task for us. He doesn't want us to cling, He wants us to GO!

Who will you tell about Jesus' resurrection today?

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Take Heart!

John 16:33: "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

When I read these words this morning, I immediately thought of Joshua 1. God came to the new leader of Israel and in spite of the daunting task being faced by Joshua, God said, "Be strong and courageous." Joshua "took heart", brought down the walls of Jericho and conquered the promised land.

Then I started thinking about other examples of courage in the Bible. I remembered Gideon, who was hiding in a cave when God found him. With the power of God behind him, Gideon "took heart", tore down the idols and defeated the enemies of God with a greatly inferior army.

I remembered David, who "took heart" and took down the giant.

I thought about Daniel, who "took heart", continued to pray and became the world's greatest lion tamer.

I looked at the list of people in Hebrews 11 who all "took heart" and lived by faith.

Then I said a short prayer of thanksgiving that God has already won the victory. Now, I'm going to "take heart" and go out and live for Him in spite of this world's trouble.

Join me?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

JOHN 14:1 - Let not your hearts be troubled.

Research confirms that anxiety, stress and depression are at an all time high. People (maybe you) find themselves at the point of despair far too often. Fear, worry, concern, uneasiness, tension and nervousness have become defining words. On any given day, as many as half of the people you encounter have troubled hearts.

Perhaps you have a troubled heart?

Our hearts are troubled because we want everyone around us to think well of us. Our hearts are troubled because we want everyone around us to agree with us. Our hearts are troubled because there is not enough to get by. Our hearts are troubled because we have too much to handle. Our hearts are troubled by the decisions of others. Our hearts are troubled by the consequences of our own decisions. Our hearts are troubled because we don't measure up.

Do I need to go on?



It's not just a political thing, but politics contribute to our troubled hearts. It's not just a "fake news" thing, but the constantly negative news cycle contributes to our troubled hearts. It's not just a social media thing, but never-ending quest for other's approval (likes, shares, follows) contributes to our troubled hearts.

I think the number one reason our hearts are troubled is that we estimate the moment we are in is far more meaningful than it actually is.

When you hear the name "Job", you think of suffering don't you? He was a guy whose heart was certainly troubled, right? Scholars estimate that the suffering of Job, as described in the Bible, lasted between 9 months and a year. I can imagine that in the middle of that moment, Job's heart was heavy.

But do you know what the last two verses of Job say?

And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days. (Job 42:16-17)

That expression "full of days" is similar to what we mean after Thanksgiving dinner when we say, "I'm full." It hints at satisfaction, pleasantness or contentment. Imagine that. Once Job made it through the moment of suffering, he experienced a full and content life. The moment wasn't nearly as meaningful as it felt.

Whatever is going on around you today, let not your heart be troubled. This too will pass.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

What you are going to do, do quickly...

JOHN 13:27 - “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

Jesus told us we would remain in His love if we obey His commands. For that reason, I have spent the past few months working through every command of Jesus in the book of John.

Today's command might be the one command we are NOT to obey!

These were Jesus' words to Judas in the upper room. Having revealed to the disciples that He was about to be betrayed, Jesus sent Judas out to do the dirty deed.

Perhaps this is a morning to reflect on betrayal. Specifically, how we (like Judas) betray Christ. One definition of "betrayal" is to "be disloyal to".
  • How often are we disloyal to Jesus?
  • How often are we more loyal to something/someone other than Jesus?
My thesaurus app lists "wander" as a synonym of betray. This one really hits home for me. I know how easy it is for me to wander away from my loyalty to Christ.

This morning, read these words from the old hymn "Come Thou Fount" and make them your prayer for the day:

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let that goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Leave Her Alone.

JOHN 12:7 - "Leave her alone"

Anyone who has ever parented two siblings has, at some time, said something like "leave her alone." Little brothers know how to get under the skin of their sister. Little sisters know how to egg on their brothers. Siblings rarely know when to stop needling one another so parents often have to step in.

Sometimes, adults have to step in when children are bullying other children. If you are a teacher or a coach or work with kids in another capacity, you have at some point said, "leave her alone."

Even grown ups can take a joke to far or miss the social cues warning them to ease up. Every so often our teasing might go a little too far and we need someone to say to us, "leave her alone."

John 12 tells the story of Mary anointing Jesus with her perfume. Her act of worship was not appreciated by some who were there. They considered it too extravagant and too showy. Their criticism of her worship style was cut short when Jesus said, "leave her alone."

These are good words for us to remember. One of my personal rules for church life is that "what works for me might not work for everyone else." I might not choose to pour perfume on Jesus feet, but someone else might. I might prefer a different style of music than someone else. I might wish the preacher used different illustrations. I might choose a different color carpet in the church.

Having different opinions is great. Diversity makes us better. But the moment I start criticizing others because their preferences are different than mine, I become like the Pharisees and disciples who criticized Mary. When I sit in judgment of others because they have a different perspective than I do, I need to hear the command of Jesus, "leave them alone."

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Go. And Sin No More.

JOHN 8:11 - "go, and from now on sin no more."

Place yourself in the sandals of the woman caught in adultery. You have many excuses you could make.
  • The Pharisees are just using me to trap Jesus. I was set up.
  • Where is the guy who was sinning with me? Why isn't he in trouble?
  • I know most of these men who are accusing me. None of them are perfect either.
Jesus didn't give her any space to make excuses. He made it clear that what she had been doing was sin.

AND HE FORGAVE HER!

We cannot receive God's forgiveness until we are willing to acknowledge our sins. And once we do confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us!

Jesus is really giving two commands to the woman here. He first says, "Go", which is to say get on with your life; don't stay stuck here; keep moving. Secondly He says, "sin no more" which is to say something needs to be different; you can't be who you were; growth is the result of change.
This is one of those commands that is worth writing on an index card and taping on your bathroom mirror. Or you could scratch it out on a piece of masking tape and stick it to the steering wheel. Get it in front of you in a place where it reminds you every today.

"Go. And sin no more"

GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE. DON'T STAY STUCK.
KEEP GROWING. KEEP CHANGING.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The More Quickly You Judge, The More Likely You'll Be Wrong

JOHN 7:24 - "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly."


As the two teams warmed up, I watched the different players, sizing them up, trying to decide who the better players were and which team was the better team. In a few minutes, I would be officiating the game and it is often helpful to have an understanding of the different players' skill levels.

What I saw was one team with several large players who appeared confident and coordinated. Their warm-ups were crisp, they were well-organized, their uniforms were sharp. By all appearances, they were the better team. Their opponents were much smaller. Although their jerseys were the same colors, they sported a variety of shorts and socks. They were disorganized and didn't even appear to know or like each other.

I don't remember the final score, but it wasn't close. The small and disorganized team ran circles around the favorites. They dominated from beginning to end. I was wrong because I was deceived. I was deceived because I judged merely on appearance rather than waiting to observe the teams' skill level.

In John 7, Jesus told the crowd to stop judging based on appearances. They misunderstood Jesus because He didn't fit with their previous experience. They were unable to comprehend who He was because they were unwilling to consider they might have been wrong about something in the past.

Today would be a great day to reconsider your assumptions about people around you. I bet you will come into contact today (or this week) with a few people you may have judged wrongly. Reconsider why you feel the way you do about them. Choose to give them room to change (or change your opinion about them). Stop judging them by what you think you have seen and start getting to know them a little more intimately. You might be surprised!